Disney Theatrical Group Honors TPAC

Disney Theatrical Group (DTG) has honored the Tennessee Performing Arts Center with a unique work of art to recognize the center’s successful return engagement of Disney’s The Lion King earlier this year and other collaborations between the organizations over the past 14 years.

In the first year the award is being presented, TPAC is one of three performing arts centers in the United States to receive a handcrafted lioness mask from Disney’s The Lion King. The hit Broadway musical made its Nashville debut with a six-week, record-breaking run at TPAC in 2006 and returned for a four-week, sold-out run in 2013.

“On behalf of everyone at Disney Theatrical Productions, I want to congratulate the extraordinary staff of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center on yet another exceptional season, which included the four-week return engagement of Disney’s The Lion King in Jackson Hall,” said Jack Eldon, Vice President, Domestic, Disney Theatrical Productions in a letter read by TPAC Board Chair Claire Tucker when the mask was unveiled at TPAC’s annual fundraising gala in August.

“During this triumphant run, Disney Theatrical Productions had the privilege of partnering with TPAC, for the second time, on a special initiative called Disney Musicals in Schools, a program that enabled 10 under-served Nashville schools with the opportunity to produce one of our Disney Kids musicals. To date, Nashville is the only city outside of New York City where this program has occurred,” Eldon continued.

“These achievements could not have been attained without the ingenuity and dedication of a team whose commitment to excellence remains unparalleled,” he said. “We hope this tribute will serve as a reminder of your outstanding work, and our deepest appreciation."

Displayed on African fabric, the lioness mask is a replica of the original, created by renowned designer Michael Curry and Julie Taymor, the Tony Award-winning director of Disney’s The Lion King. The mask is on permanent display in TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall.

“We’re honored and sincerely grateful to receive such high praise for our staff and this exquisite gift from Disney Theatrical Group,” said Kathleen O’Brien, TPAC’s president and chief executive officer. “We value our long-term relationship with the organization, and our audiences share our appreciation for the extraordinary quality and breathtaking artistry of Disney musicals. The educators, children and parents at those 10 Nashville schools are thrilled with the results of producing musicals in their communities. On both the tours and the educational outreach, our partnership with Disney Theatrical Group is rich, meaningful, and fun.”

TPAC’s long relationship with Disney began in 1999 when Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s first Broadway musical, premiered in Nashville. Other engagements have included Aida, High School Musical, Mary Poppins, and the two runs of Disney’s The Lion King. In total, seven Disney engagements in Nashville have entertained more than 284,000 guests over 134 performances. That tradition continues this month when Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will play a special return engagement on September 24-29.

TPAC president and chief executive officer Kathleen O'Brien unveils a handcrafted replica of the lioness mask from Disney's The Lion King at the performing arts center's annual gala.